How to Forgive My Abusive Parents & the Muslim Community?

07 May, 2020
Q Salam Alaykum. Firstly, thanks so much for your efforts. I have two issues related to my emotional stability.

(1) I have parents who have not fulfilled their rights to me and my sister.

This is in part due to their own mental issues and childhood spent in poverty/orphan hood. My mother, in particular, has previously been extremely harsh.

To give an example: I do any chores she asks me to do and often spend several hours a day doing things she wants, even if she sometimes doesn’t even need my help.

Yet, whenever she gets angry about a small mistake, she yells, “Your bad work only makes my life more difficult” or „You only do things for yourself and your friends.”

When I was younger, these things had often led me to contemplate suicide and running away. Despite all these hardships, I have never prayed against my parents and only prayed for their forgiveness.

But controlling my emotions is becoming increasingly difficult. Does forgiving others mean we forget the emotions with it?

(2) Spending time with the poor and oppressed has made me realize how neglectful the Muslims are in my city.

There is a community of African-Americans here in my city who have been subjected to terrible living conditions for decades. This includes numerous black Muslims, yet I have never heard one khutbah, lecture or event dedicated to them.

While I do respect the work some others are doing, I have had to help a lot of people on my own and thus get the feeling other volunteers don't actually understand what their people are going through.

I thus find it very hard to get along with most other Muslims, even those who work in relief organizations.

I am trying to remain humble with other Muslims, but their views of the world are so simplistic that I find it difficult to respect their views.

I often can't enjoy normal social events at mosques or other religious places. I know arrogance is a sin and I always pray Allah gives me humility, but the things I have seen have made me increasingly detached from other Muslims, from whom I expected more.

I would love your input. JazakAllah Khair.

Answer


In this counseling answer:

When parents are abusive and have their own mental health issues, the counselor suggests family therapy.

Make a family time wherein parents and children read the Quran together.

The counselor also encourages to think of all the good the parents did provide.

Make lots of du’aa’ and dhikr as Allah (swt) is the Ultimate Healer.


As-Salamu ‘Alaykum brother,

Thank you for writing us. You stated that your parents have not fulfilled their rights to you and your sister. You are right, in part. I can clearly hear and feel the pain you have been suffering apparently for a long time now.

You stated your parents had mental health issues and unstable childhoods; thus, this could be the reason that they have been harsh on you and your siblings, especially your mom.

How to Forgive My Abusive Parents & the Muslim Community? - About Islam

Understanding

You stated that they, and especially your mom, were harsh and by the examples, you gave it is clear why you are feeling the way you do.

It seems your mom is in much pain and is taking it out on her family. Sadly, this is a common feature of those with unresolved issues, brother.

Their pain and anguish just keep on growing and growing, causing further mental scarring as well as hurting relationships with those they love the most.

Your mom appears to be taking out all her pain and rage on you and your family. It may be that she needs counseling.

Counseling

At this point, your whole family could benefit from counseling, brother. I am not sure if this is what you want to hear.

Realistically, it does not seem to be resolved on its own through all these years; thus, a good therapist may help save your family relations. I am sure your dad and sister are as affected and hurt as you are.

I would kindly suggest dear brother that you get the family together and express your love for them as well as your concern about the things that have been going on all these years.

Express your desire for the family to heal and in sha’ Allah propose family therapy to help resolve these issues. While healing does not happen overnight, it is a good place to start. 

Highlight positive behavior

Based on your examples of your mom’s behaviors such as saying “he will suffer in the hereafter” as well as the Eid incident, your mom is still trying to practice Islam which is a good sign.

In sha’ Allah, brother, you can be an inspiration to your family. Try to make a family time wherein everyone meets together one or two evenings a week for Qur’an reading.

In this way, when it is your turn to read, you can choose subjects in the Qur’an relating to mercy, kindness as well as how a family should treat one another.  In sha’ Allah, brother, your family will be open to this as well as family counseling.

Stay connected with the community

Please, make du’aa’ to Allah (swt) to help your family. Also, try to go to the masjid often for prayer. If possible, try to go as a family.

While you stated you are also disappointed in the Muslim ummah, there is a great benefit in going to the masjid. Additionally, we go to the masjid mainly to pray and in it are blessings.

So, please try to put your other feelings aside for now and focus on your relationship with Allah (swt).

Your rights

Now, regarding your rights as a child and a young man, yes, some of your rights were denied at times such as being treated with loving kindness. You were often treated unfairly and harshly which is a violation of your rights.

However, your parents did provide you with a home, food, a bed to sleep in, and nice things in the home to the best of their ability. 

As you appear to be Islamically grounded, I am sure that there were Islamic teachings from your parents at one time or another.  Also, your parents provided you with an education.

So while some of your rights were denied at times, you were also given rights to the best of their ability.

I state “to the best of their ability”, brother, because you started they both had mental disorders from a rough childhood. Therefore, their ability in some aspects may have been impeded. Allah (swt) knows best.


Check out this counseling video:


Charity

You state you are doing charity works and becoming disenchanted with the Muslims. People are trying to help the poor and oppressed because they seem to not understand what they are going through. True, they may not.

However, charity work is a work in progress. While they may not truly understand yet, at least they are dedicating their time and trying. In time, In sha’ Allah, perhaps people will come to a fuller understanding.

Understanding and connecting begin with the desire to help. For that, they should be respected. Allah (swt) did not say to “understand everything”. Allah (swt) stated to do charitable works. Allah (swt) knows best.

A hadith also states,

”The Prophet (saw) said: O community of people, who believed by their tongue, and belief did not enter their hearts, do not back-bite Muslims, and do not search for their faults, for if anyone searches for their faults, Allah will search for his fault, and if Allah searches for the fault of anyone, He disgraces him in his house”. (Abi Dawud)

Therefore, please remember brother that we are all striving and none of us is perfect. You may choose to make your charity work one of the teachable moments. Relating to the conditions of the oppressed and poor but do so in a kind and loving way. 

You have many great things to offer, brother, just as others do. Not everyone’s intent and heart is evident though they try.

I do want to point out, however, my dear brother that you are using the same judgmental behaviors on your fellow Muslim volunteers that your parents used on you.

You may want to evaluate if that is really how you feel or are you a product of your environment as were your parents.

Often times we have lived with certain behaviors so long that we cannot see how they have integrated into our own persons.

This is not to say that you are wrong in what you perceive, dear brother. However, what you perceive may not be the truth for all the Muslims you are speaking of. Allah (swt) does see their hearts wherein we cannot.

Forgiveness

Regarding your question about forgiveness, we want Allah (swt) to forgive us, right? Therefore, if Allah the Most High promises to forgive us, who are we to not forgive others?

I know this can be really difficult, especially when we have been hurt so much by those who we depend on for unconditional love and support such as our parents.

This leads to your statement about controlling your emotions concerning forgiving your parents as well as your emotions and feelings of arrogance regarding your fellow Muslims.

Being let down

The one issue I see, brother, is that you have been let down by your parents and in your mind, Muslims too. Our parents and our Muslim ummah are two important relationships.

We tend to hold both in high regards and expectations. Your disappointment hurt, and anger may have led you to become depressed, angry and withdrawn, thus, causing high emotions.

As you have been through a lot of hurt brother all through your life, it may have had effects on your own mental health status.  I am so sorry you had to go through this.

I kindly suggest that you seek out counseling from a therapist in your area in addition to family therapy (if your family is willing).

I also humbly suggest brother that you draw closer to Allah (swt) through prayer, du’aa’, reading Qur’an and doing dhzikr. Doing dhzikr helps reduce emotional anxiety and is soothing to our souls. In sha’ Allah, if your family is willing, have a family night for reading Qur’an. 

Lastly, trust in Allah (swt) that these trials you have gone through have prepared you to do great works within the ummah and for humankind in general.

Going through hardships makes us more humble, more connected to others as well as more able to be a benefit. Our first step, however, lies within healing ourselves.

We wish you the best. You are in our prayers.

Salam,

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

Read more:

https://aboutislam.net/shariah/refine-your-heart/advice/guide-allahs-mercy-forgiveness/

https://aboutislam.net/muslim-issues/science-muslim-issues/healing-prayers-prophet-mohammeds-advice/

https://aboutislam.net/muslim-issues/science-muslim-issues/healing-prayers-prophet-mohammeds-advice/

About Aisha Mohammad
Aisha received her PhD in psychology in 2000 and an MS in public health in 2009. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. Aisha specializes in trauma, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach.
Aisha works at a Family Resource Center, and has a part-time practice in which she integrates healing and spirituality using a holistic approach. Aisha plans to open a holistic care counseling center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocate for social & food justice. In her spare time she enjoys her family, martial arts classes, Islamic studies as well as working on her book and spoken word projects.